BERLIN – A former East German sports official has reportedly acknowledged there was widespread state-sponsored doping in the communist country, including of minors.
Thomas Koehler, an East Germany sports official in the 1970s and '80s, made the admission in his book "Two Sides of the Medal," which was obtained by German news agency DPA before publication this week.
"The sports leadership decided to use selected anabolic substances in a series of sports (in the 1970s)," Koehler wrote. "If East Germany wanted to remain competitive in international sport there was no choice but to allow the use of doping substances.
"If athletes were included from age 16, that happened with consideration of their biological maturity."
East Germany's doping program has been widely known for years, but Koehler's admission is the first by a senior official.
Koehler claimed that "all substances were administered in agreement with the athletes," DPA reported.
The extent of East Germany's doping under a government-run program to achieve sporting success became clear after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the communist country.
Many athletes later said they were unwitting victims of the program, having been given drugs without their knowledge while teenagers. Many said they had suffered permanent health problems because of steroid use.
Thomas Bach, the head of Germany's national Olympic association, said Koehler's assertions could "bring more clarity to the processing of doping history."
"Of course, the state plan for widespread doping was known, just as the doping of minors was already uncovered in trials in the '90s," Bach said. "But sports officials from the former East Germany have always largely denied that."